Pratiksha SRIVASTAVA, M.Tech in Biotechnology (25, India)

Pratiksha Srivastava

Pratiksha Srivastava has developed a unique piece of technology to enhance constructed wetlands technology, in order to provide more efficient water sanitation in rural communities. Soon, she will start her PhD studies at the University of Tasmania, Australia.

CSIR-INSTITUTE OF MINERALS AND MATERIALS TECHNOLOGY, BHUBANESWAR, INDIA

Research focus: anaerobic treatment

Clean water and sanitation stand out as being among the most important aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). According to UNICEF, 2,000 children die every day due to lack of sanitation, and India suffers more than any other nation from this human tragedy. Open defecation is a further risk for many Indians, particularly women. Pratiksha is seeking to put an end to both of these plights, as well as adhering to the SDG of resource recovery and reuse focus.

To tackle the first of these circumstances, Pratiksha is enhancing constructed wetlands technology. Constructed wetlands are currently able to effectively sanitise water, without chemical or mechanical requirements. However, processes are extremely slow and a large land-use footprint is required. To solve the problem of inefficiency, Pratiksha has developed a novel Integrated Constructed Wetlands-Microbial Fuel Cell. This device accelerates anaerobic processes and enables constructed wetlands to perform at twice the speed. The land-use footprint requirement is also lower and electricity can even be generated. She has published many research papers/chapters, attended international conferences and has been awarded the prestigious NFP fellowship from the government of the Netherlands. Her innovation has been globally recognised.

In addition to this, Pratiksha has designed and built a unique zero discharge water recyclable community toilet, which has been integrated with constructed wetlands and innovative septic tanks. In doing so, Pratiksha is not only contributing towards increasing sustainability in the community, but also putting an end to the undignified and unsafe practice of open defecation.

The jury was impressed by Pratiksha’s work using interdisciplinary skills, including biotechnology, microbiology, process engineering, electrochemistry, inorganic chemistry, botany and environmental science and engineering, and is also eager to see this potentially life-saving development being put into wider use. Pratiksha's focus on constructed wetlands as a low-cost and simple technology was highly convincing for the jury.